Play Away! (Carefully)

(Photo by AC, Royal Troon #1)

The National Golf Foundation is reporting that golf courses in the US should be back to 80% open as of today, and 90% open by May 17. Hopefully we can show that we can have nice things (check out our guy Greebytime’s guidance on how not to screw it up) and get to 100% soon after that.

At this point, only Washington (state), Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC are keeping courses closed. Washington state has set a reopening date of May 5th and New Hampshire May 11, and the NGF is estimating we’ll be at 90% open in the US by May 17th. All in all, it could have been worse. For colder climates, it probably wasn’t going to be much fun to play until recently (it was snowing in Minneapolis only a week ago!).

Canadian courses have been given the green light to go ahead, and South Korea will be hosting a professional women’s tournament on May 14th. Other countries are taking a slower approach – the UK remains locked down indefinitely, and will be reviewing their status on May 7th to decide whether to extend the closure another three weeks. But according to Golf Magic’s government insider, there are no plans to open their courses until at least May 25th. Mainland Europe seems to be on a country-by-country basis: I found some courses in Italy such as La Biella accepting tee time reservations, and other courses like Olgiata (site of the 2020 Italian Open) are closed indefinitely. Spain has closed all courses until at least May 9th.

I get the abundance of caution, but as we’ve pointed out before, golf has to be the lowest risk outdoor activity. I encounter more people in the 15 minutes a day I spend walking my dogs than I would for a whole day at the golf course. So let’s hope we can get back to a somewhat normal playing experience so we can enjoy “working from home” more.

The reduced play and uncertainty has resulted in some courses getting creative about how to replace lost revenue. A recent article about lifetime memberships being offered by Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Links (near Inverness, Scotland) on Golf Monthly caught my eye. For £3,000 (about $3,700 at the moment), international members (and those living more than 50 miles away) get lifetime playing privileges on a gorgeous course and a long list of other benefits (including half price reciprocal rates at places like Royal Dornoch). It would be a good excuse to make a trip to Scotland every year!

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